Tuesday, March 20, 2012
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Winning the cyber-war

Writing in the Western Gazette, David Heath MP says: "If I suggest that the country is under attack from cyber-warriors, you will probably conclude that either I’ve finally lost it, or I’ve been watching too many old episodes of Dr Who. But that’s exactly what is happening, not as a result of extra-terrestrial action but by criminals using cyber-space in order to make a killing, foreign companies trying to obtain competitive advantage, or hostile governments seeking to undermine our defences. And the level of threat is such as to make the conference held this week and attended by both the foreign secretary of our country and Hillary Clinton both necessary and timely. 

"The information revealed by the head of GCHQ, which monitors what is going on, is both fascinating and chilling. Ian Lobban said that a “significant but unsuccessful” attack was made on the Foreign office and other government systems this summer, and that our “continued economic well-being” is threatened by a “disturbing” number of such attacks on government, industry and individuals. Some try to steal sensitive information such as design details from manufacturers, including defence contractors; others attempt to obtain account information to allow for theft from bank accounts or blackmail of people whose personal details are compromised. One criminal operation, foiled by the intelligence service, would have stolen the details of over a million bank accounts, and it is estimated it would have netted some £300 million if it had succeeded. 

"Policing what happens on the internet is notoriously difficult, with 16 million internet users in 1995 growing to nearly 2 billion today. But overt government intrusion is not something anyone would wish to see; apart from being completely ineffective, the value of the internet is that it is largely free of government censorship. But what can be developed is sensible ways of using IT systems to ensure that what is personal and sensitive remains so, and unfortunately there is ample evidence that is not always the case. That’s why this international conference, with the UK taking the lead, has the potential to be so useful.

"Of course, when it is a hostile spy network trying to gain entry and disrupt communications, as apparently happened earlier this year, it becomes even more important. It’s just as important to find effective defences against such attacks as it would be against more conventional warfare; perhaps this may be the battleground of the future.

"Meanwhile, some of the national newspapers splashed a story about a different sort of communication, what was described as “secret negotiations with the Prince of Wales over legislation”, which it was claimed was discovered by “Freedom of Information requests”. I suppose it was too simple to just look in Hansard, where for donkeys’ years it has been recorded when the Prince of Wales’ consent to a bill affecting the Duchy of Cornwall has been sought, as it has been by constitutional convention for centuries. So not much of a scoop really. They do say the best way of hiding a secret is to make a speech about it in the House of Commons; certainly the people paid to be political journalists won’t notice!"

David in Parliament

TheyWorkForYou.com Search: speaker:David Heath
  • Points of Order (15 Mar 2012)
  • Traveller Sites (Dorset) (12 Mar 2012)
  • Traveller Sites (Dorset) (12 Mar 2012)
  • Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government: Localism Act 2011 (12 Mar 2012)
  • Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government: Localism Act 2011 (12 Mar 2012)

Published and promoted by Mike Bell on behalf of David Heath (Liberal Democrats) both at Church Hill House, 17 Bath Street, Frome, BA11 1DN.
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